Mormons apologize for posthumous baptisms of Wiesenthal's parents
Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal.
February 15th, 2012
04:21 PM ET

Mormons apologize for posthumous baptisms of Wiesenthal's parents

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has apologized for "a serious breach of protocol" in which the parents of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal were posthumously baptized as Mormons.

The church also acknowledged that three relatives of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel were entered into the genealogy database, though not referred for baptism.

Asher Wiesenthal and Rosa Rapp were baptised in proxy ceremonies in temples in Utah and Arizona, according to the database records discovered by researcher Helen Radkey in Salt Lake City.

The Wiesenthal baptisms violated a 1995 pact in which the church agreed to stop baptizing Jewish Holocaust victims.

"We sincerely regret that the actions of an individual member of the church led to the inappropriate submission of these names," said church spokesman Michael Purdy.

"These submissions were clearly against the policy of the church. We consider this a serious breach of our protocol and we have suspended indefinitely this person's ability to access our genealogy records."

Mormons believe that they may be baptized by proxy for deceased ancestors who never had that opportunity.

Church members, however, are supposed to request such baptisms only for their own relatives, Purdy said.

The agreement over Holocaust victims came about after it was discovered that hundreds and thousands of names had been entered into Mormon records.

Jewish leaders said it was sacrilegious for Mormons to suggest Jews on their own were not worthy enough to receive God's eternal blessing. Radkey, who has been tracking Mormon genealogy records for a while for people who ought not to be there, said she inadvertently stumbled upon the Wiesenthal name a few weeks ago. Among others people she discovered had been baptized by proxy is President Barack Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced the baptisms.

Wiesenthal's father died in combat in World War I. His mother perished at the Belzec concentration camp in 1942. Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal died in 2005 after spending years hunting down Nazis.

"We are outraged that such insensitive actions continue in the Mormon Temples," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who participated in many of the high-level meetings between Jews and Mormon officials.

"Such actions make a mockery of the many meetings with the top leadership of the Mormon Church dating back to 1995 that focused on the unwanted and unwarranted posthumous baptisms of Jewish Victims of the Nazi Holocaust," he said in a written statement.

He expressed gratitude to Radkey for "exposing the latest outrage."

Radkey also found the names of relatives of Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

"In this case, the Wiesel family names were not submitted for baptisms but simply entered into a genealogical database," Purdy said. "Our system would have rejected those names had they been submitted."

Purdy said it was "distressing" that church members had violated policy and regretted that "an offering based on love and respect becomes a source of contention."

Radkey said the church makes such breaches possible because any member can submit a name not connected to their own family.

"There are way too many entries slipping through the cracks, including Jewish Holocaust victims," she said. "It's (the Mormons') belief to save the dead that is causing the problem."

Wiesel, meanwhile, told the Huffington Post that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is Mormon, should speak to his own church and tell them to stop the practice of proxy baptisms on Jews.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Judaism • Mormonism

soundoff (2,053 Responses)
  1. DrMatrix

    Nice of them to apologize for this outrage.

    I expect they will offer a sincere sounding apology the next time they get caught doing the same thing.

    February 16, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      They have been caught multiple times since 1995. They don't care. Their apologies are worthless.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • Ariel


      They mean well.

      I don't give a rats *** if they postumously baptize every one of my relatives going back to Avraham Avinu.

      Mormons are friends. Let them express their faith. B'chavod.

      Now, for political purposes I certainly appreciate the cry of "foul"... but that's only politics.

      Gave a great day.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  2. GIJoe

    Even Hitler is on the list of people baptized.

    What a bunch of goof-balls. Are they "paid by the person"? I wonder if they travel around the world collecting names from headstones?

    February 16, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • Ariel

      Don't bring the name of their "High Priest" into this please.

      My laughter just went somber.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • Ariel

      "Their" being the propegators of hate and intolerance within Humanity.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  3. Freethinksman

    At what point are we allowed to laugh at the silliness going on here? Come on! There are real problems in the world that require serious attention and action. Worrying whether the memory of a dead relative has been tainted by magic is not one of them.

    February 16, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      Why do you care? When you are dead, none of it will matter anyway. Why get your panties in a wad over someone else getting offended?

      February 16, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • Ariel

      Are you kidding ????

      The laughter this is bringing me is well worth the print.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  4. Jodi

    Doses't matter how many times they baptize , a Jew is ALWAYS a Jew

    February 16, 2012 at 7:58 am |
  5. Thomas

    Children! No more arguing over who has the best imaginary friend.

    February 16, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • TopView20

      Genius retort!

      February 16, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • N&W 1000

      Atheists have wonderful imaginations.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • Ariel

      Doubting Thomas !!!!!

      February 16, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • Hindsight

      Interesting, your joke gives me the sense that you actual fear that your wrong about what you believe. You have a feeling God just might be real. Either you A. Don't want to deal with the consequential changes you might have to make if you acknowledge what you are feeling. B. Have said too much and acted out so much against it that it would be too hard for you to face that your wrong, let alone acknowledge that fact with others. C. Or this is the only way you can escape dealing with the guilt of your actions in life by just not acknowledging that your are going in the wrong direction. D. Mixture of the above.

      Either way, I'll just say this, unlike alot of things in life, at some point, it will be too late.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • Thomas

      Actually our religious friends have alll the imagination.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • Thomas

      Hindsight, I never said there was no God. Actually I believe in a greater force. I am just not so self important as to form the force into a human shape which created the entire universe just for us.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • bigot

      "Either way, I'll just say this, unlike alot of things in life, at some point, it will be too late."

      ooooo scary....more fear mongering from christians. Show me some PROOF of your extraordinary absolute claims. Actual proof, not bible verses written by MEN. Sure, there COULD be a god or many gods or no god. But until you can provide proof, you are no less crazy than the person who believes in leprechauns. Please prove or absolute claims of a christian god.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • Hindsight

      So you believe in a greater force, yet you believe in no one. Occam's razor. You run from the possibility because you refuse to believe it might be true. Scientists run from that truth and search for their own truth only to further prove more truth towards the existence of God than against. The most interesting being the theory of the Big Bang. All life started from a single object that exploded and created all that we know exists. In other words, All that exists know basically exploded from a single object compressed to an unimaginable size. Still in other words, All of the sudden out of no where, everything burst into into existence from an explosion at a single point. Even still in other words, " In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. " Simplistic definition, and yet still all encompassing of the original statement.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • Hindsight

      Wow Bigot, a bit angry. Its up to you to choose what you believe. The one thing we can't escape is the truth. Whatever it might be. But all science is theoretical yet we believe it to be true. Based on theories that we decide to accept as truth. Its like believing that pi will never end, but how do you prove it? In the end we will find out what is true and what is not. If I'm wrong, I lose nothing. I lived the best and most honorable life I could, helped others, and prospered at the expense of my own work. You gain bragging rights that you don't get a chance to receive. But if I'm right...

      February 16, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • bigot

      "So you believe in a greater force, yet you believe in no one.'

      Wrong....i believe that there could very well be a god, or no god, or many gods, but mankind will never be able to prove it. I am not going to speak in such absolutes like yourself with such lack of proof. I am not that ig..no..rant. Why can't buddhism be the one true religion? or Hinduism? or maybe some other religion billions of light years away that we dont even know about?

      February 16, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • bigot

      I look at alot of science with the same speculation. The difference here is that when science disproves a theory, scientists go back to square one and rework the problem, where religion tends to accept one answer as truth, even with zero proof of said truth. However, "all science" is NOT theoretical. That statement is i..gn...orant as well.

      February 16, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • bigot

      "If I'm wrong, I lose nothing. But if I'm right..."

      look up "pascals wager". If you are believing in chr..istian..ity on the off chance that you will be subject to a chri..sti..an god who judges you, you really are ig...no...rant. If you are wrong, you do lose something. you just spent your entire life believing in something that men told you was truth when in actuality it was one big lie to control people and never have the opportunity to see the world through unfiltered glasses.

      And you still haven't shown any proof of your god.....STILL WAITING, AND WAITING, AND WAITING.............................

      February 16, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  6. N&W 1000

    The REASON it matters is, the LDS Church offers FREE copies of the bible to anyone.
    But, they will be honest and tell you they believe it is filled with error, mistranslated, missing many plain and precious doctrines.
    The BOM, on the other hand, is "The most correct of any book on earth..."
    IF the bible is filled with errors, WHY give it away to people?

    February 16, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • Ariel


      My guess is your on the payroll !

      Cheers !!!!

      February 16, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • Ariel

      Let's go cosmic on this.

      We've got just under 4 Billion years to figure our way off the planet... cuz this rock is gonna burn. It's called a red sun ask your local cosmologist.

      Instill that in your youth, teach then how 1 billion years is a blink of an eye from an existing perspective, then maybe we have a chance.

      Unite the Tribes or we're all going down... wouldn't that be a laugh. Not !

      February 16, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  7. N&W 1000

    Take the word "Lucifer."
    Rendered from original Hebrew, i.e., Light Bearer, into Latin by Jerome, as Lucifer, kept in the text by the KJV translators.

    The BOM was allegedly written in Reformed Egyptian, a language we have never seen an example of.

    How did a Hebrew phrase, rendered into Latin, and kept by the KJV translators in 1611, end up in the BOM, allegedly written hundreds of years BC?

    February 16, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  8. N&W 1000

    The King James Translators, working between 1603-1611, inserted words into the text of scripture to better describe and make meanings clearer. In order to be honest to the reader, they italicized these words.
    How did these words, from the 1611 KJV of the bible, end up in a book (BOM) supposedly written hundreds of years BC?
    Plagiarism, that is how.

    February 16, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  9. N&W 1000

    The very first version of the BOM listed Joesph Smith Jr. as the author.
    The very first version of the BOM promised the Indians that if they would convert to Mormonism, their skin would turn white.
    The very first version of the BOM contained over 20,000 words plagiarized directly from the KJV of the bible, even down to the italicized words.
    This first version was preserved by Wilford C. Woodruff, an LDS member and apologist for the church, I have seen it myself.

    February 16, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  10. Wade

    I know of a lady at Queen Creek AZ public library that was entering dead people into the mormon genealogy. We would talk sometimes until she found out that I was not mormon or believed in what she was doing. She went as far as to complain to library that I was stocking her. By the way, I found a book under a rock dose anyone want to read it with me.

    February 16, 2012 at 7:34 am |
  11. hank

    Rather insensitive of the Mormons. It rather in you face that they really do not respect other religions. Fanaticism is not a monopoly of the Mormons. But it does speak to their basic approach to non mormons-Gentiles as they call us ( another way of saying we are wrong and they are right)

    February 16, 2012 at 7:33 am |
  12. Glenn

    This is missing one important fact: The Mormons believe that a submarine filled with Jews floated across the Atlantic Ocean, landed in Central American, and were greeted by Jesus. This is core to Mormonism. The "book" goes on to suggest that Native Americans are genetically connected to Jews.

    Mormons are absolutely passionate about baptizing dead people, but are zealots when they perform the ceremony on Jews, because of their "connection" to the origins of their belief. I lived in Utah for 5 years and my Mormon friends had a very hard time trying to explain all this...and they still do.

    February 16, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • N&W 1000

      This story was contained in a book called A View of the Hebrews, published well before the BOM.

      It sounds like where Joseph got his story from, because that is certainly NOT in the bible.

      February 16, 2012 at 7:43 am |
  13. SecretAgent

    Aw, that's nothing. I said grace over part of a dead cow the other day.

    As if chanting some silly ceremonial words actually damns people buried in the ground. "Oh My God! Stop . . . stop the ceremony! I accidentally gave you the wrong text. We just baptized some jews as mormons! Do you realize what this means? Now they have to collect and store enough groceries to last a year. Just how are they going to do that?"

    People need to stop smoking whatever it is that makes them believe more in the power of some fanciful fairy tale than in themselves.

    February 16, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Southern Utah G Man

      Absolutely hilarious! Jesus, folks, get over it. Let's all laugh it off before some Jewish idiot pushes the button and the whole globe gets nuked to death. Who's going to baptize all the dead Jews then? Seriously...someone kill me. I can't stand the pressure anymore. I will go find out what's on the other side and come back to tell everyone what religion is true. If I don't come back then there's nothing out there, death is the end, and God is a dream for the living.

      February 16, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • bigot

      "death is the end"

      Guaranteed you cannot prove this statement. Stop being ignorant.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:24 am |
  14. ialsocare2

    Enough on this story, all are dead anyway. How about an update on Andrew Adler of the Atlanta Jewish Times advocating the killing of Obama, no more news about this, want to keep it hush hush. Oh this is bad publicity for Jews so we better shelf it.

    February 16, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      Adler does not speak for any Jew other than himself.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  15. Neil

    For argument's sake, what if the Mormons are right? What if there are millions of dead people learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ and waiting for those still living to help them get baptized? Wouldn't you all feel silly for getting upset about something done in love? The church is doing everything they can to accommodate those who are upset. I wish people would simply open their minds and accept the beliefs of others. And yes, that includes Mormons respecting the beliefs of those who don't want their ancestors baptized posthumously.

    February 16, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • shortbus

      The mormons should apologize for Josh Powell ever existing while they're at it...

      February 16, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • darth cheney

      For argument's sake, what if Jesus/God was so shallow and vainglorious that such ridiculous acts mattered to him? Nonetheless, that is apparently the God most of us believe in.

      February 16, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • Athena

      Neil, you Mormon moron–redundant isn't it. It's neithert their business nor right to baptize anyone without their approval. And love, some beat and abuse their children or spouses out of love, but according to you that must be alright. Here's the real point Neal, whose belief is being respected by these baptisms. It sure as hell is not those of the deceased! You want to impose your insane belief on everyone, leaving none to choose for themselves. I hope that someone mounts a class-action suit for civil rights violations against the Mormon, and all of the other repressive, churches and sue them into oblivion. If there ever was a Christ, there can be no doubt that you self-righteous fascists would villify, persecute and nail him right back on the cross because he wouldn't live up to your Christian principles. Twain said if Christ came back today, there was one thing he wouldn't be, and that is a Christian.

      February 16, 2012 at 7:37 am |
  16. Four Jumps to Insanity

    1. The universe requires a cause. Quantum physics. (Probablility .25)
    2. The cause was "intelligent". Children with Leukemia. (Probability .15)
    3. The intelligence was a "person". Of ALL the possibilities, humans can ONLY imagine "a "personal" god. (Probability .05)
    4. That "person", (of ALL the god possibilities), is Yahweh Sabaoth, the "god of the armies. (Probability .01)
    .33 x .15 x .05 x .01 = 99.9999 % it's all crap.

    February 16, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      Random numbers game!! WEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

      February 16, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  17. Julia

    I'm not a religious person by any means, but I just feel like there's something so wrong/offensive about these posthumous baptisms. I mean, I think we can all agree that the Jews for whom the baptisms were performed would not have chosen to be baptized by the Mormon church – why not just respect that decision? I mean, nothing against the Mormon denomination (to be honest, I don't really get it when people say Mormons aren't Christians. The differences people cite seem pretty small to me) but this is crossing a line. Good for the Mormon church for making a statement against this type of thing.

    February 16, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • Athena

      As for the Mormon church making a statement against this sort of thing, they supposedly did that back in 1997. They apologized then too. What are they? Brittany Spears...oop we did it again.

      February 16, 2012 at 7:46 am |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things!

    February 16, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • Atheist Arron

      Name another animal other than man that prays then...?

      February 16, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Devil

      Take your bible and cram it where your god dont shine..

      February 16, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • bringoutyourdead

      demons oppose prayer with paralyzing fear

      February 16, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • Athena

      It sure does! It makes the brain rot, and reason and intellect fall into a wasted state. But, if prayer does work, I will pray that you and the rest of your idiot lot disappear and leave the world alone to finally find peace and mutual respect.

      February 16, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      Actually, Athena, it does the exact opposite. Studies show people who pray are healthier than people who don't.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • hilreal

      Relgion is not healthy for education, tolerance, love, caring, sanity to just name a few....

      February 16, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  19. Bilbo


    Y'all should get real jobs.

    February 16, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • shortbus

      YAWN. And "y'all" should learn to speak correct english..

      February 16, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • WallStud

      "Y'all" is proper English.

      February 16, 2012 at 7:34 am |
  20. Dutch

    Jesus Lives! But he's late. He's supposed to trim the hedges this morning before cleaning the pool.....

    February 16, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • darth cheney

      How dare you confuse the Anglicized Gee-zus with the Spanish Hay-zoos!!! Next thing you're going to say is he isn't blond haired and blue eyed!

      February 16, 2012 at 7:39 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.